Schopf, J. William

Schopf, J. (James) William

(1941–  ) paleontologist; born in Urbana, Ill. A Harvard Ph.D., he joined the faculty at the University of California: Los Angeles (1968), where he became professor of paleobiology. He was NASA's principal investigator of lunar samples (1969–74). A specialist on the origin of life, Precambrian paleobiology, paleobotany, and fossil and modern microorganisms, he announced in 1980 the discovery in Australia of 3.5 billion-year-old fossil organisms, a find that pushed back the age of life on earth by 1.2 billion years.